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I Forge Iron

Big tanto style blade build


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Last week I started into my stack of leaf spring. With the help of a striker, we forged out a couple of preforms. 

This is my first full blade build, perhaps I've dove straight into the deep end on this build... but I've been learning a lot.. The only other knife build i have done,, being a super simple Kiridashi, which I've used quite a bit on this project. So expierence is not on my side.

That being said, I am not claiming to actually know what I'm doing. 

This will be an ongoing thread as I progress through my tanto build. Yesterday the blade survived the heat treating process so all the heavy lifting on this project is done, now just a bunch of finishing work, and to put an edge on it. 

Rather than take the time to write a book on the process, I will just do a huge photo dump. And highlight a few of the steps that may or may not be obvious. If you have questions I may or may not have answers, but I will definitely have questions myself. 

As always, looking forward to hearing your feed back and suggestions.

Started with unknown leafspring, the big stuff. Then broke it down with an angle grinder. 

Did a couple heat treatment test coupons, It hardened in both oil and water, but the grain was much nicer in the oil. 

So I got to forging, preform went pretty ok with a striker.  May have over forged it just a touch,( leaving some hammer marks that I won't beable to grind out).

After beveling the blade was darn near spot on to my original plans (a huge relief and a nice small victory for the inexperienced smith such as myself.)

I forged the guard from some 5/8" round mild steel, then hot fit it to the tang. Using an iron pipe and a couple of fittings to hammer the guard evenly down around the tang.

Next come a little clean up with an angle grinder.  And a ton of work with draw files. 

The handle and scabbard are locally sourced maple. All shaped by hand, I broke down the lumber with an axe and hand saw, carved the tang and blade cavities with hand chisels and a kiridashi,  shaping is being done with a hand plane and sand paper. 

For the heat treatment I decided to attempt to achieve a Hamon by "clay" coating the spine with furnace cement, then quenching off in oil. And then right back into the forge coals to temper. I may have over tempered the tip a little. But I will roll with it. 

Handle spacers are being made from coper pipe.

The handle will be epoxyed and pinned with a brass pin.

Thats the progress up to this point. Might not get around to finishing until after the holidays.

Hope everybody is enjoying as much festivities as possible. 

Thanks for looking!


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Oh put, sorry to disappoint,  but I havnt done a habaki for this one yet. Ther is just a layer of oxide and crusties on the  area making it appear darker.i still have some file work to do there, and I need to find a source of copper flat bar to make a habaki from. Like I said still a lot of finishing work to do. But thank you.

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Oh yeah thanks Thomas. The sleeves may be perfect. But the pipe I was finding was too light of a wall to get the shape I want out of it. But having a little more material than the pipe offers would be perfect. Ill see what I can find at the hardware store next time im by there.

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Ok sorry, im not familiar with the process, or the terminology.  But im all ears.

I understand that mokume is different kinds of metal "welded?"together in a forge. But not sure what the process is called. Or if it's called the same or some thing completely different if it is just copper to copper...??

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  • 4 weeks later...

Got the tanto finished and assembled. Lots of flaws lots of learning. I failed at creating a proper hamon, it shows up at the base of the blade at before the tang but not in a horizontal pattern with the blade, but perpendicular to the blade... The handle cracked after the epoxy set up. And the blade nolonger locks into the scabbard tightly, I would love to make new furniture for it but I will hold off for a while and move on to the next project ad apply what I've learned here. 20201222_153123.jpg.d0077034a054e2915bdd5caf96c25d31.jpg 20201230_125352.jpg.09ca0f38ce6bdf9dfdb14c49dfeeaf6d.jpg 20210106_145252.jpg.715d6f034ce060792995a8074779ff30.jpg 20210106_153133.jpg.e36d4eafe771351627b92ded130ae3a3.jpg 20210106_165522.jpg.eb65f4b653c542f7f454f14714f82390.jpg 20210106_165535.jpg.d8f4a7f9dc4b54427043b571b1275b81.jpg 20210106_165341.jpg.3d198e7bb2f6f053a46ecb2cf71ba9f2.jpg 20210107_093818.jpg.227d4877ce35d5817da0e7230b085f5e.jpg

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